Brainwaves, violins and unique brand portraits

This week’s Focus on Thursday I share the story of one of the most bespoke brand headshots I’ve ever done.


Paula Muldoon, orchestral leader of the Cambridge Philharmonic and award-winning software engineer.


Paula contacted me to say that she’d like to get some updated publicity shots to use on her website and social media.  These images would be a mixture of studio imagery and on location. She expressed an interest in getting some creative studio images which would focus on her musical side as a performer and composer, and a location shoot which would focus more on her personality. Paula had a professional shoot over 10 years ago and felt it was time for her to get some updated images.

Paula also wanted to try to communicate that her violin had its own personality, with her interacting with it as if it was a person. This was rather silly but very fun!


During our first conversation, I learnt a lot more about Paula. She’s passionate about colour and liked the idea of using textures like exposed brick and woodwork. We agreed that the Empower Portrait Session would suit her needs. This package includes two hours shooting time, which we agreed we’d split into two shoots.

When we went deeper into the ideas which sprang to mind, I wanted to create something similar along the lines of my #Cheeky Selfies’ project. At the time Paula contacted me she was a software developer in digital health. The company looked at how they could use real-world digital health solutions, which lead me to hit on the idea of visualising Paula’s brainwaves whilst she was playing her violin.

Paula informed me she had a Muse2, which was a new device which would help you meditate. It also had the ability to export the data from the app. I asked Paula to play her violin whilst wearing the Muse 2 and send us the data. We then took this data and converted it into visualisations which we planned to use as an overlay on her studio images.

Paula also wanted to include some of her handwritten sheet music within the shoot. She sent me some of her work, and this got me thinking about how it could be incorporated.

We created Paula a mood board where we put ideas which inspired us both, I did some research on what other imagery was out there of musicians and created a shoot plan.

For the location shoot, I did a reccy of areas around the river Cam, uploaded images I’d taken during my exploration to the Pinterest board and created a plan for that part of the shoot.

The studio shoot

When Paula arrived, we sat down and had a cup of coffee and I took her through my ideas about the images we wanted to get through this shoot.

I’d come up with the idea of projecting her sheet music onto Paula, to see what we’d achieve with doing that. It was inspiring to have our studio filled with beautiful violin music for an hour!

Near the end of the shoot, we had fun making her violin into a person. We tried a lot of different poses, making believe that they were both having a scintillating conversation!

Once Paula had made her shortlist of the images, it was on to the creative editing stage.

The internal quartet

My initial idea was to convert Paula’s brainwaves when she was playing her violin into visualisations which we could use on her images.

My husband and business partner Xander took it one step further. He made music from her brainwaves.

This is what the finished piece of music looks like

We call it the internal quartet. Listen to the music below.

Here are some of the images created using Paula’s brainwaves and the internal quartet.

We then came up with a concept for the location shoot. How could we incorporate the internal quartet into the location shoot?

The location shoot

Once we’d achieved Paula’s aim for her musician shoot, she wanted to get some personality-filled portraits. Paula loves being outdoors with her cockapoo Nutmeg and loves taking her for walks down the River Cam.

We agreed on Stourbridge common As it was very close to Paula’s house and worked well for her. On this shoot, Xander joined us to help support me.

On this shoot, Paula’s personality came out in buckets. Taking place in Autumn I was a bit worried about the mud and leaves. I shouldn’t of worried, Paula arrived on location wearing bright pink welly boots.

We incorporated her request to feature exposed brick, and images of the river Cam.

To incorporate Paula’s internal quartet we’d created, we printed copies of it and positioned Paula to stand under the bridge. We then chucked the sheet music off the bridge and captured the dynamic movement of the falling sheets onto her:

Back at Willcox HQ

Finishing touches were done to the studio shoots, and editing completed from the location shoot. Paula then selected her final ten images.

Drumroll, please…

Paula came to me to create some new brand portraits. Not only did she get some extremely bespoke imagery, but we also connected on a level which helped her feel comfortable for us to experiment and play with lots of different ideas. The images have been used on Paula’s social media channels and on her website.

Kind words:

“I worked with Jemima to develop a series of publicity photographs for use mainly online (website / social media). I loved every second of working with her – she is enthusiastic, creative, and listens really well. I went in expecting to just get some “nice” headshots but ended up with some tremendously unique photographs. I hope to be able to work with her again soon, and I can’t recommend her highly enough!”



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